Akash in 2000 Guineas after scratch scare
Owner Louis Richards is hopping mad that his horse, AKASH, was almost scratched from today's 2000 Guineas at Caymanas Park on the recommendation of veterinarian Dr Jason Wright, a decision overturned by Dr St Aubyn Bartlett, the Jamaica Racing Commission's veterinary consultant.
Bartlett yesterday told The Gleaner that Wright, whose services were procured by promoter Supreme Ventures Racing and Entertainment Limited (SVREL) to check horses participating in the weekend feature races, had recommended on Thursday morning that three horses be scratched from the 2000 Guineas - AKASH and Anthony Nunes' pair of ICTUS and DONTAE.
Nunes, who had another runner, BALAZO, two rungs down on the also-eligible waiting list, accepted his sudden turn of fate, which resulted in that horse making the cut.
Richards, however, took matters into his own hands and insisted that nothing was wrong with AKASH - resulting in his reinstatement by Dr Bartlett.
"I carried the horse to Dr Bartlett myself and he didn't have to lay a hand on the horse to see that he was okay. All he told me was that my horse was going to run," said Richards, who also trains the chestnut colt.
"From he was a two-year-old, that horse has never had any form of lameness and I really had to carry on bad, really bad," he added.
Wright, in response, said he found that AKASH was moving "rather stiff on his front right foot".
"He had no back swing. I made a note that the horse was moving funny. I have no power to scratch any horse. Any findings I find, I was asked to turn them over to Dr Bartlett.
"Later in the morning Dr Bartlett called me and asked about my findings. I reported to him three horses - AKASH, DONTAE and ICTUS. I said to him, 'ICTUS and AKASH were moving sore, but it might be that they had just been taken out, they were not allowed to warm up or anything,'" he pointed out.
ATTEMPT TO SCRATCH HORSE
"I don't know who contacted Mr Richards next. He called me in one temper, saying that I am trying to scratch his horse to allow Mr Nunes' horse in.
"I explained to Mr Richards that I can't scratch the horse. I saw the horse moving funny and passed the information to Dr Bartlett, who has the final say in the matter. Dr Bartlett saw the horse and said the horse is moving fine, so the horse is still in the race."
Dr Wright went on to outline the status of Nunes' two horses, who both cantered Thursday morning before being examined.
"ICTUS is moving stiff, so he is out of the race, DONTAE is dead lame, cannot walk, so he is out," he said.
Bartlett, however, said the report on the three horses represented a recommendation that they should be scratched, which he confirmed with Wright.
"He said he didn't like how AKASH was moving. I asked him if the horse should be taken out and he said yes, so I passed that information to the stewards, along with the others," Bartlett pointed out, explaining how AKASH was initially scratched.
"Some time after I heard a commotion outside my office and it was Mr Richards. I told him to bring the horse to me. I had the horse trot, an, in my opinion, the horse was sound enough, so I reversed his decision," said Bartlett, adding that he did not see Nunes' horses because there was no protest on that trainer's part.